From my perspective as Regional CIO of a global technology company, innovation takes on a couple of forms. The most obvious is the innovation in technology created for sale to our customers and in that context, my challenge, like many CIO’s is keeping up with the advances of this new technology as it enters our business. Landing innovation requires a keen eye on what is coming, what impact (positive and negative) it will have on the status quo and how to ensure effective change management. We need to maximize the positive impacts and limit any unplanned disruptions that are always a risk when deploying new technology. Companies who live on the leading edge of technology need to build unique muscle to adopt technology that has not yet been stress-tested by the industry but still strive to deliver a smooth user experience.
While dealing with innovation is one thing, being innovative is very different. In this context, ‘Innovation’ is about new ideas and use of technology that adds incremental value to your organization and customers. A foundational element of Innovation in IT is understanding of the drivers of our business model and how technology can facilitate growth. In other words, how we apply the technology available to us vs. waiting for a supplier to hand us the answer. This type of innovation can only come from CIO’s and their IT organizations functioning in a progressive, proactive posture, keeping an eye on the road, but carving out time to understand the business well enough that they can challenge the status quo.
The dual challenge that technology companies have is that not only are we innovating for our own purposes, but also for that of our customers and end-users. As Plato coined, “Necessity is the mother of invention” and to that end, the better connected we are to that necessity, the better equipped we’ll be to proactively offer innovative ideas.